Miami (Fla.) Booker T. Washington outside linebacker Matthew Thomas has been rated among the nation's elite since the first rankings release for the 2013 class, but just recently received his fifth star. The South Florida defender said it put a smile on his face the day it became official.
"I was like 'Wow'," Thomas said. "I just felt accomplished. It is a big accomplishment. I just feel like it recognizes what I have done on the field and what I am able to do."
While the 6-foot-3, 201-pound tackling machine appreciates the accolades, he doesn't get wrapped up in where he is ranked.
"It doesn't mean that much, though; it is about playing football," Thomas said. "I know it is about doing your job on the field and helping your team to win games. That is what really matters."
Thomas is considered the No. 2 outside linebacker in the nation and No. 11 overall prospect. Blessed with great athleticism and a spectacular frame, Thomas has sharpened his tools at linebacker during the last two years of high school after settling in at the spot.
"I had played wide receiver, played safety, play defensive end, but I really settled in at linebacker during my 10th grade year," Thomas said. "I had played it when I was younger, so I was confident at the position. I feel like I have become a much better player over the last couple years."
The reason for Thomas' development at linebacker is likely due to one simple characteristic that is the backbone of everything he does -- effort.
"I just really go hard at it," Thomas said. "I go all out every time out. I love the game. I want to make my impact felt on the field every time I go out there."
Thomas has a desire to be a perfectionist and is a student of the game. As a junior, Thomas racked up 117 tackles and 13 sacks, but he is looking to improve upon those numbers as a senior.
"When I look at the film, I look at the plays that I missed," Thomas said. "I don't really watch the positive plays, I watch the ones where I didn't make the play or do my job. I want to get better, so I look at those plays to see what I missed or did wrong."
Thomas, who is ranked as the No. 3 prospect in the talent-rich Sunshine State, said his primary focus over the summer is helping his team prepare for another run at the state championship. Last season, Booker T. Washington lost in the Class 4A state championship game to Jacksonville (Fla.) Bolles.
"We have some new faces, so we are working on becoming a better team," Thomas said. "We just want to win, we want to win it all. We want to win a state championship, but we know it starts with winning our first game and then our next game and then the next."
Thomas says that he will participate in some 7-on-7 events with his teammates. He also expects to visit or camp at Alabama, Florida State, and possibly Miami during the summer. During the spring, Thomas named a top five of Alabama, Florida State, Georgia, Louisville, and Miami.
"I am looking at all of the schools that offered me," Thomas said. "Those five, though, do stand out. But I like other schools as well, they just aren't in my top five."
"I don't have a leader really," Thomas added. "I could say one, but I really like all of the colleges in my top five. They are all really doing a good job recruiting me."
Whatever team he ends up with will be getting a game-changer who makes an impact all over the field on defense.
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